- Spend some time thinking through, discussing and defining prayer. What does our culture think of prayer and how does this differ or accord with the Christian view? Consider the follow in your discussion:
Prayer is the most common faith practice in the West. Prayer beings the session of parliament in Australia. It’s often heard out loud at weddings and funerals. Puritan pastors would pray for hours and some churches have services full of prayer in tongues. Even Atheists often admit to praying in difficult times and statically, that prayer increases as people age.
- Read Psalm 13:1-2. Discuss how David was feeling as he prayed these words. What was he doing in prayer. Now read Psalm 13:5-6. What has happen to David to make him pray this way? Why do you think it is so different from vv. 1-2?
- Turn over to Psalm 88. What strikes you as you progress through reading this Psalm? How can we find comfort in such a dark Psalm? What does this tell us about God and Psalmist heart and mind at this time?
- Have you ever found it hard to pray? One of the challenges of prayer is coming face to face with the reality of our emptiness, distractedness and loneliness. Often we can become filled with other thoughts and quickly move on to other things and avoid praying. These moments are important as they seek to remind us that we need God’s grace to even do something as simple as pray! Read Romans 8:26-27. How does the Word of God and the Spirt of God unite together in prayer? Luther said that when he need to ignite the fire of prayer the Word of God was the only match that was able to do it. What other verses can you think of that help to ignite prayer in us?
- Read Romans 8:14-16 and Hebrews 10:21-22. What do these verses tell us about who we are and who we encounter when we pray? How does this give us comfort and hope?
- Let’s look at a model of how to pray from Matthew 6:5-13. How might each line of this prayer guide us to pray? Craig Blomberg notes that, ‘We may choose to pray these exact words thoughtfully and reflectively or to put into our own words similar concerns.’ (Blomberg, Matthew, Page 118.) There is no set formula for how to pray the prayer Jesus modelled for us. Discuss the following from Scholar Grant Osborne to help understand the thrust of this passage further:
There are two major messages in this section: One: Prayer, like giving,must be private rather than ostentatious (vv. 5–6) or filled with wordy jargon (vv. 7–8); the goal is to worship God and present your needs to him, not to gain notice for your piety. Two: The model for prayer (vv. 9–13) is also a model for Christian living, centring first on worship (v. 9) and God’s concerns (vv. 9–10) and only then on your own needs (vv. 11–13), and even then the primary needs are spiritual (the final two) and not just earthly (the first)(Osborne, Matthew, Page 222.)
- Spend some in prayer, using the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9-13as a guide for yourself and those in your small group, family, work colleagues and friends. How could your current prayer life be refreshed from what you have learnt in this study?
Further Information on Prayer
Luthers, ‘A Simple Way To Pray’ book. Free PDF.
A great blog post about Psalm 88 and the hope it gives us.
10 Ways to pray for your wife or husband.
Examining what it means to pray in the Spirit.
A challenge to help us pray as believers and children of God.
Classic quote by Charles Spurgeon on God answering prayer. Very encouraging!
A great list to help us pray specifically for those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Further teaching on true, Biblical prayer.
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